Alright, here it is the big fantasy football post. It’ll be long and dry and of next to no interest for most of you, so move along if you’d like. It won’t make you a bad blogging friend.
Going into the draft, I had LaDainian Tomlinson as my franchise player, as I will every season until he is no longer useful. The other franchise players that weren’t available for drafting were Larry Johnson, Shaun Alexander, Edgerrin James, Tiki Barber, Carson Palmer, Terrell Owens, and Cadillac Williams. So the first round of our draft is really like a second round, albeit one where some stupid people used top 8 picks on Palmer and Cadillac.
To get the best sense of how I did in the draft, I’ll quickly explain the scoring system we use. TDs scored are worth 6, passing TDs are worth 5, field goals are 3, PATs 1, DST scores are worth 4 (all scores are doubled past 50 yards). We give bonus points for yardage, with 2 points for 100 yards rushing or receiving, 4 for 150 combined rushing and receiving, 6 for 200 combined. 200 yards passing is worth 2 points, 300 is worth 4, and 400 is worth 6. For tight ends, the bonus marks are 75 for 2 points, 100 for 4 points, and 125 for 6 points. Sacks, INTs, and forced fumbles for DSTs are worth 1 point each, and players lose a point for INTs thrown, fumbles lost, or missed kicks.
The first pick went to Dean, who had traded with our Champion from last year, Boman, to move up to get the pick. Boman was more interested in drafting in the middle of the snaking rounds, so he drafted fifth, right ahead of me. They’re the two best players in the league other than myself, with Boman winning 2 championships and Dean 1 in the past (I have won 3). Dean traded up to get Clinton Portis, but then he separated his shoulder in the preseason, causing Dean to go back and forth about his pick even in the hours leading up to the draft. He really wished he hadn’t made the trade.
Surprisingly, he used the first pick on Ronnie Brown (joining Larry Johnson in his backfield). I had wanted Brown with my sixth pick, but given the way the guy with the second pick (Jeremy) reacted, that was never going to happen. Instead, Jeremy chose Stephen Jackson (joining Cadillac Williams). Tej paired his FP Carson Palmer with Rudi Johnson with the third pick. At this point, the three of us with the middle picks couldn’t believe how the draft had been shaping up, not expecting the players still available to be so. Alex, who had the fourth pick, had told me he wasn’t interested in Peyton Manning or Portis prior to the draft, but faced with the situation, he had a hard time choosing. Ultimately, he went with Torry Holt (to go with Tiki Barber), the player I had told him Boman was interested in.
Boman really didn’t know what to do in this situation, as he had planned his draft order never considering that he’d have the shot at Peyton Manning, who he ultimately drafted. Never has someone gotten Peyton for essentially a second round pick (pairing him with Shaun Alexander), and been so torn up about it. I was beaming since Alex drafted, as I knew I would either get Peyton or Portis, two guys I never expected to get with the sixth pick. I quickly drafted Clinton Portis, who I’m confident will be healthy when I need him. A Tomlinson/Portis backfield… not so bad if I do say so myself.
The first round finished off with Gary drafting Chad Johnson (to go with Tiki Barber) and Grammy taking Steve Smith, who pairs with T.O. to give him a deadly pair of wideouts (albeit, wideouts with hammy issues right now). To start the second, Grammy took Willis McGahee and Gary took Larry Fitzgerald. I was surprised that three receivers went in those picks, especially since Grammy already had T.O., but since I’m not as high on Fitzgerald as seemingly everyone else, I was still able to get my fifth ranked guy (even after five receivers were off the board) with the next pick, making Marvin Harrison a Slayer for the first time ever. No real surprises for the rest of the second or early third, with top receivers like Randy Moss and Anquan Boldin, the top tight end Antonio Gates, and backs like Lamont Jordan and Domanick Davis getting picked up. For my third pick, I was delighted to find Hines Ward drop in my lap. He’s always overlooked in our league, mostly because he’s not a sexy pick. But, he goes out and scores TDs, so I’m happy. Dean would’ve taken him to start the round, but was scared off with his preseason hammy issues, and went with Roy Williams instead. I wanted either Hines or Williams, so I was happy.
The tight end I had hoped to grab in the fourth, Todd Heap was taken by Gary right before my pick, so I decided I could wait on the pick. I also wasn’t thrilled with the next tier of runningbacks from which to grab my first backup, as Boman grabbed Reggie Bush right before I was going to in the third. So, I decided to take the top rated QB on the board, Tom Brady. I never considered that I’d draft Brady going into the draft, thinking that I’d wait for a QB, but he was the best value available at the time. I’m happy with it. It’s funny, me and Boman expected to be the last two to draft a QB, and we ended up being the first two instead.
Another tight end, Chris Cooley, was taken while I waited for my fifth pick, so I decided to hold off on the position and get my backup RB first, drafting Joseph Addai, my only sleeper pick back left as I disappointingly missed out on Frank Gore, and less disappointingly missed Chester Taylor (a back I wasn’t prepared to draft that high anyway). When I picked Addai, several groans of frustration went out amongst the crowd, a wonderful sound at a fantasy draft, telling me that I was wise not to wait another round.
In the sixth, I finally grabbed my first tight end, drafting Heath Miller. With him and Ward, I now have 95% of the Steelers receiving TDs! Too bad Pittsburgh is a run-first team. Still, they threw a lot in the playoffs last year, and no longer have the Bus to lean on when in doubt. On the way back in the seventh, I grabbed Joey Galloway as my first backup WR, giving me the oldest receiving core in the league (with him, Harrison, and Ward).
I decided I could wait to grab my fourth back, a luxury in an eight team league. Instead, I went to my backup QB position in the eight round, completing my Steeler passing game by adding Ben Roethlisberger. He was a sleeper starter candidate for me, so I’m happy with him as a backup. Kickers had started to go off the board before and after that pick, with Neil Rackers, Adam Vinatieri and Shayne Graham all picked up, so decided to jump in with my ninth pick and draft Mike Vanderjagt. This was probably my only real mis-step of the draft, as it’s starting to look like there’s a chance he might not make the Cowboys after a bad preseason. Idiot kicker.
In the tenth round, I was delighted to see Vernon Davis still available, so I snatched him up. A couple people in the room hadn’t heard of him, which is probably why they lose a lot. I’d be happy with him as my starter, so he and Miller should give me lots of options. He could be the next Antonio Gates. In the eleventh, I realised that I might not have a second starter for week one, as Portis may still be out and Addai might not have won the starting job by then. So I covered my bases and drafted Dominic Rhodes. Ultimately, I figure the job will still be up in the air by week one, so I released Rhodes this week for T.J. Duckett, after his trade to Washington.
In the thirteenth round, I grabbed my final receiver, taking Lee Evans. I had originally ranked him higher than Galloway, and considered drafting him back in the seventh until I realised I had over-valued him. Now I’ll get to see why I thought so highly of him originally. In the fourteenth, I grabbed Ryan Longwell, a guy I was looking at to be my starting kicker. He’s been consistently amongst the league leaders throughout his career, and now he kicks indoors most of the time. So, if Vanderjagt gets cut, I’m fine.
Going in, I’d planned to not look to draft a DST until the final two rounds. The position is too up-and-down every year to waste early picks. I held to this, using my last two picks on the Washington Redskins and the Denver Broncos, respectively. I plan on monitoring the waiver wire for this position after the first few weeks.
And that was my draft. Here’s my team:
QBs- Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger
RBs- LaDainian Tomlinson, Clinton Portis, Joseph Addai, TJ Duckett (originally Dominic Rhodes)
WRs- Marvin Harrison, Hines Ward, Joey Galloway, Lee Evans
TEs- Heath Miller, Vernon Davis
Ks- Mike Vanderjagt, Ryan Longwell
DSTs- Washington Redskins, Denver Broncos
Not too shabby, huh? Obviously, being in an eight-team superleague allows for some monster rosters, but for comparisons sake, here’s Boman’s team, whom I consider to be my top competition. NOTE: immediately after the draft, he was able to trade Manning and Bush for Carson Palmer and Rudi Johnson.
QBs- Carson Palmer, Jake Delhomme
RBs- Shaun Alexander, Rudi Johnson, Tatum Bell, Deshaun Foster
WRs- Randy Moss, Plaxico Burress, TJ Houzmandzadah, Reggie Brown
TEs- Tony Gonzalez, Joe Klopfenstein
Ks- Jeff Wilkins, David Akers
DSTs – Pittsburgh Steelers, Jacksonville Jaguars
I think one of the keys to my success is that I don’t overthink things too much. I think people get too swayed by preseason stats, and get too nervous about little injuries. Also, I’m pretty prepared going in, unlike some players who simply grab a magazine during the draft and wing it. The magazines aren’t much help ranking players for an 8 team league that doesn’t award many points for yardage. Also, I’m less concerned with wowing people with my picks, which allows me to comfortably draft guys like Harrison, Ward, and Brady without having to prove how much more clever I am (the three championships do that for me).
Favourite Pick: I was pretty excited to get Portis. Sure, there’s a risk there, but I’m not that worried. Duckett’s presence doesn’t worry me much either. The Skins plan on running the ball a lot, and thus will need a solid backup for Portis, lest they burn him out (he’s had a lot of carries over the years). Ladell Betts has been dinged up in the preseason, so I think that’s the injury that made them trade for Duckett, not Portis’. Sure, he’ll lose some goal line carries, but I still think his overall numbers will go up. After that, I’d say that Hines Ward was my next favourite. Last year he was my number 1, so having him as a number 2 is great. I was able to get 2 of my top 5 backs, 2 of my top 8 receivers, my third-ranked QB, and 2 of my top 6 TEs.
Riskiest Pick: Portis is obvious, but I don’t think he’s much of a risk at number six, especially as a number two back. So I’ll go with Joseph Addai, who could be in an RBC all year, and I took while guys like Brian Westbrook and Corey Dillon were still available.
Heartbreak Hotel: I waited one too many rounds for Frank Gore, who I was pretty high on. And that was before San Fran traded away his competition, Kevan Barlow. Norv Turner backs always do well, so I’ll have to hope that Addai is the real deal. Plus, I got Brady with the pick before Gore went, so it wasn’t a complete loss. Reggie Bush going right before I was going to take him threw me off a bit, since I figured I could’ve gotten him and Hines Ward (as the guys drafting in between me already had two receivers each. Although, it turns out Grammy went ahead and got his third in between my picks anyway, so I might’ve lost out on him).
So, there you go Tono. What do ya think?